Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.( I John 4:7-8)
The Apostle John wrote his first epistle to those in the church who had been confused and demoralized by mystical, experience based christianity.
The true knowledge of God is what John set out to re-establish, for the false teachers had been able to supplant the christian understanding of what it means to ‘know the Lord’ with their own sensual, pseudo spiritual version of “knowing God”.This is why John is always reminding us of what we know.
These ‘gnostics”, ie ‘knowing ones’ claimed a special revelation of God, above and beyond the simple christ centered, scripture based faith of ‘everyday’ christians, which they demeaned as ‘elementary’, dull, and unspiritual.
John’s antidote is to remind us in simple propositions, such as ; the “only true God, and eternal life”. “God is Light…God is Love… and Jesus Christ has come (and remains) in the flesh”. Out of this threefold theology, John will present us with tests , moral, doctrinal, and relational, that we may know whether we have eternal life.
These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.(I John 5;12)
We look now to the second of these propositions. God is Love. The true God’s nature is Love.
Perhaps this is the most familiar yet misunderstood statements in all of the Bible. God is Love. What do we mean by this statement? What is the nature of the Love that is proclaimed here?
The Revelation that God is Love is not to be understood in isolation to the rest of the Epistle. Obviously this is not all that the Bible says of God.
God is Light, also, for God is never “part ” anything. God is utterly self consistent, he is One. Therefore He is Light, and Love, simultaneously. Absolutely Holy, and absolutely merciful, gracious and loving.
God’s nature is to Love. He ever desires to give, He is pleased to communicate, to share, to know and be known by man. He is always the initiator, reaching out, giving, removing the obstacles that fallen and unworthy man has erected. We Love Him , because He first loved us.
The ‘Love’ wherewith God loves us, is not to be confused with love as this humanistic age has understood the term. God’s Love can only be understood in the context of God’s other perfections.
God’s love is Holy Love. He has loved us, but could only save us in a fashion consistent with His own nature. In order to justify sinners His love compelled Him to offer a propitiation,(a satisfaction offering).
Since God is indivisible by nature, everything He does, is done in Love, creation, judgment and salvation are all acts of Love. God is Love.
But that Love is not a mystical “spiritualised Love”. Rather it is concrete, real, “in the flesh”. There is a three-fold description of what Love is, in First John-
* Love is defined by the Incarnation-
In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.(I John 4:9)
Love , as defined by God , is Jesus humbling himself, leaving heaven and coming to us in our need(for Life) to save us. Love is also the Father, releasing Jesus to come to us as an offering to himself.
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (I John 4;10)
Note that Divine Love isn’t humanistic, it’s not something that originates with man, God loved us first. all else is response or rejection.
* Love is sacrifice of self for the object of Love-
Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.(I John 3:16)
Notice that Love isn’t a feeling, it is an action, a self denial on behalf of others. Jesus laid down his life for us. He put aside his own interests, cares, safety and comfort, because we needed Him to, even before we realized and appreciated it!
* Love is being adopted by God-
Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God…(I John 3:1)
Christians have received a new kind of love, for the Father above has taken action, sending His Son laying down his life, and bringing us into the communion of Father,Son and Holy Spirit!
The world couldn’t know, except by revelation of Jesus the beauty and blessing of this Love. Agape is truly transformative. The contemplation of God’s love is the reason for the ‘changed life’.
The true reception of Holy Life changes everything, from darkness to light, from bitterness to love and forgiveness, from taking to giving, from vileness to wholesome and pleasant thinking, Holy love is the fount of holiness.